Officer Tracy Retirement


Greg Anderson

Officer Tracy Burbach is recognized by Representative Robyn Vining.

Malik Boyd, Editor

“There’s been so many moments to celebrate. I think what I really enjoy most about my career has been the school resource officer,” said Wauwatosa police Officer Tracy Burbach. After 31 years of dedication and service Burbach has made the move to retire, ending her career as a police officer. Her last day, Friday, February 10th, was met with hugs, high-fives, some tears and a musical send off by the orchestra. Officer Tracy, spent 14 years in Wauwatosa, during which she covered 19 schools, primarily Longfellow Middle School. Burbach truly loved every day of her time as an SRO, she feels that it was a life changing experience, but now, “I need to take time for Tracy.” For the rest of the school year her role will be fulfilled by Officer Cordero Finley who is also currently covering Whitman middle school and the West Tosa elementary schools. In September, Officer Albiter will be fulfilling the SRO vacancy. 

Burbach has been recognized in the community for her service and involvement in the community. In November of 2016 she received the mayor’s award of exceptional service. Burbach was nominated by the Wauwatosa Police Department’s social media administrator after she saw all the positive comments regarding Burbach on their Facebook and Instagram pages. The ceremony was a complete surprise to her. Mr. Carter was the principal at the time, and Dr. Larson was the associate principal. Mr. Carter [radioed me] and he was talking to me about something that was really not relevant. So it’s kind of like my brain was like, why is he asking me something very silly? Then all of a sudden, Dr. Larson called out, ‘Hey, we need an officer. Tracy in the gym right away for a fight.’ And so I go running to the gym for the fight, and he opens the door, and the entire student body is there. When I walked into the gym, I remembered just being completely red, embarrassed, but caught off guard. Right. Amazing moment. My police officers were there. Administrators throughout the district were there. Obviously all 800 students. It was pretty cool.” Burbach was later awarded the state’s hometown hero award in connection with her 2016 mayor’s award of exceptional service. 

Officer Tracy also participates in the annual Police Unity Tour, which is a 320 mile bike ride from Philadelphia to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC. The ride serves to honor and raise awareness for officers who have died in the line of duty serving their communities. Burbach rides for her fallen colleague, Jennifer Sebena, who was murdered in Wauwatosa by her husband on Christmas Eve of 2012. Every rider carries a metal band on their wrist inscribed with the name of the officer they’re riding for, In Burbach’s case, it’s Sebena. On Burbach’s first ride she rode with over 40 officers. “When we got [to the memorial], we all took off her bracelet and then we handed it to Jen’s mom. It was just really powerful because we’re basically telling her mother, this is your extended law enforcement family. So that’s why I ride. I ride every year to honor our fallen, those who have made that ultimate sacrifice, those who are not going home to their families.” Burbach plans to continue participating in this experience into the future. This year, her tenth, she will also ride for Peter Jerving, a police officer who was killed in Milwaukee on february 7th, 2023. Burbach has heard countless stories about so many of those who have made that same ultimate sacrifice. “It’s just really powerful to ride next to somebody and then hear their story when you say, who are you riding for? And they’ll say, ‘Well, I’m riding for my son, and my son was murdered and this is what happened.’” The Police Unity Tour is not only a very emotional event but also one that pushes many to their limits. “I really persevere through the most difficult times just knowing that there are others that have it a lot worse than I do and I’m very blessed, for the most part….So when I meet my lowest, there are people lower than me, and I realize I can just push through.” Burbach also thanks the people around her for the strength they give. “I really rely on family and friends. I surround myself with good people. I’ve been blessed to have some amazing colleagues. I consider my best friend, Lauren Wolter. Dr. Larson is a very good friend of mine. In law enforcement, I’ve developed some really close friendships over the years. That when I’m struggling or I’m going through a difficult time, I’ve been able to lean on them.” Along with the motivation the students she interacted with gave her. “What’s most rewarding to me is to see my students come back and tell me how they’re doing. They’re coming into their own when they get into high school. I love to see how mature our students have turned out to be and how they’ve found their niche and found their friend group and the career path they’re choosing. They felt that they wanted to come back and just say thank you. Thank you for listening, or thank you for not giving up on me, or just they want to take the time to show me that they’re successful.”

As she leaves she hopes for a better future of law enforcement in Wauwatosa and around the country. “I just want to be able to see our officers enjoy coming to work and to see that brotherhood again.” Burbach expressed that the law enforcement community has been losing trust in one another as they witness their fellow officers’ misconduct across the country in recent years. “I think it’s been a very difficult time for law enforcement because of some officers who have, I guess, tainted the badge, if you will. I want at the end of that conversation to have mutual respect, because ultimately, I want the police to be viewed as problem solvers and helpers and not making the problem worse. There are a lot of great police officers out there. There’s some bad ones, too, and we’ve got to make sure that the bad ones are dealt with appropriately and accordingly, and the good ones can continue to go out every day and ensure that our communities are safe.”

Burbach began her career in 1992 as a student at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana police training institute. Directly following her graduation she worked for the Winthrop Harbor Police Department in Illinois for a short period of time. Burbach then began working for the neighboring Zion police department where  she eventually became an officer in the detective bureau. “I was investigating sensitive crimes, crimes involving children of neglect, abuse and sexual abuse.” said Burbach. After her departure from the Zion Police Department she began a new law enforcement role in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she spent eight years, six of those as an SRO, “Which I loved.” Burbach explained. “I was at Central Alternative High School… It was a school that was for kids that were credit deficient, [or had] mental health, substance abuse, criminal record [issues]; kids that just didn’t excel in a traditional setting.” Burbach realized she was missing out on things back home in the Milwaukee area, so she decided to apply for several SRO positions. She ended up taking a job for the Wauwatosa Police Department where she began working at Longfellow Middle School along with supporting several of the East Tosa elementary schools. Burbach knew the road ahead would be just as exciting as her time in Appleton. “I came into this program wanting to make a positive influence on kids and wanting kids see police in a positive light, right. Because there’s so much negativity with police, and the things that make the news are, unfortunately, the bad cops.” Burbach hopes that through her time in the district she has “impacted kids’ lives in a positive way, maybe redirected some more spirited kids, but also just been a support system for some kids that maybe didn’t have them at home. I just felt like this job has given me purpose. My purpose is to be around kids and to have a positive influence on them.”

Officer Tracy has led an amazing career and she hopes to continue to be a member of the Wauwatosa School District community. She plans to take time for herself and her family for the rest of the year. She wishes a smooth transition for our district and the new SRO officer Albiter.